PEARS paceman Josh Tongue’s memorable first year of senior cricket has reached new heights with a call-up to the England Lions squad for a training camp in Australia.
The 19-year-old played a major role in the county’s Specsavers County Championship Division Two promotion campaign with 47 wickets.
Redditch-born Tongue played all 14 games – a notable feat after his previous back problems.
He was initially picked – along with Worcestershire team-mate George Scrimshaw – to be part of the ECB Pace Programme in the next few months.
But now the Academy product has been chosen as a replacement in the Lions squad for crocked Essex paceman Jamie Porter who has a back injury. Tongue will join up in the Lions squad with his Worcestershire team-mate Joe Clarke.
Tongue said: “I wasn’t expecting to play as many games as I have this season and getting promoted is a massive achievement for me as well.
“It is one of the things I wanted to do in my career as well, to win a Championship. When I started out as a young lad, you want to play and win things.
“[England technical director of coaching] Andy Flower rang me and said they had an injury in the Lions squad and they wanted to choose me as a replacement.
Pears director of cricket Steve Rhodes said: “Talk about wonderful opportunites. Josh will be bowling against the England Test boys (out in Australia for the Ashes) in practice.
“That is a marvellous opportunity for him to impress them. He has had a wonderful season in his first year. There is an element of you thinking that going on the England Fast Bowling Programme is just about right because he can rest up, get himself stronger, ease off a bit of bowling and then hit the bowling at the right time.
“But if he has got a chance now of impressing with England Lions then that outweighs that England Pace Programme in terms of his own ambitions to eventually be an England player.
“For a 19-year-old lad to get picked in that is unbelievable and testament to him and his skills as a bowler.”
The Lions will spend a week at the Performance Centre in Loughborough before flying to Brisbane for a two-week camp which will culminate in a three-day match against a Queensland XI at the Allan Border Oval.
The Lions squad for a seven-week trip to the West Indies in 2018, including three four-day matches and three 50-over fixtures, will be selected in December.